Hey all. I thought I’d sneak in a quick Baby Pens Update ahead of the Penguins-Kings matinee clash this afternoon.
Since my last update, some good things have been happening down on the farm. Starting with a 5-2 victory over bitter rival Lehigh Valley (Philly’s farm team) on January 15, the Baby Pens have gone 7-2. They’re presently in seventh place (okay, next-to-last) in the AHL’s Atlantic Division with a record of 16-17-4 and 36 points, but they’ve shown marked improvement over the past couple of weeks.
Indeed, during the nine-game span the previously dormant offense has sprung to life, notching four goals or better five times, including four five-goal games. Backed by goalie Alex D’Orio’s stingy play in net the defense has improved as well, yielding only 18 goals during the hot streak.
The catalyst for the turnaround? The January 5 trade that brought Alexander Nylander from the Chicago organization for Sam Lafferty. Since his arrival, the talented left wing has collected six goals and 11 points in 13 games for the Baby Pens, including back-to-back, two-goal games against the Toronto Marlies.
Shifty right wing Valtteri Puustinen’s clearly benefited from playing on a line with Nylander. He’s tallied six goals and 11 points in 13 games in January. The center on the unit, free-agent Felix Roberthas also enjoyed a spike in output with four goals and nine points over his last nine.
The line’s success is having a trickle-down effect, especially on previously ice-cold prospects Sam Poulin and Nathan Legare. Poulin’s heated up to the tune of 11 points (2 + 9) during the past nine games; his former junior linemate Legare has three goals and six points over his past eight to go with a sparkling plus-five.
Filip Hallander’s notched a goal and four points over his past six games. Hulking Anthony Angellofive points in his last six, including a three-assist effort in a victory over Toronto on January 21. Center Jordy Bellerive continues to provide steadiness, leadership and a feisty presence with six goals and 16 points on the season along with a team-leading 54 minutes in penalties.
On ‘d,’ Pierre-Olivier Joseph is enjoying a solid season with four goals and 18 points in 29 games. He’s a team-best plus-eight. Finally getting a chance to play, fellow rearguard Juuso Riikola has 12 points in 17 games, including 11 assists.
The aforementioned D’Orio? He’s posted a .930 save percentage over his last eight games, including a shutout two days ago against Cleveland.
Definitely some reasons to smile.